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Nebraska nonprofits call for fair share of American Rescue Plan Act dollars

Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 10:50 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - More than 20 nonprofits testified Tuesday in front of Nebraska lawmakers making a care for a big piece of the American Rescue Plan Act.

“We want nonprofits to be treated with parity as with the funds that go to businesses,” said Anne Hindery, CEO, Nonprofit Association of the Midlands. “Nonprofits for the past 18 months plus have really been on the frontlines working with childcare, homeless, food pantries, and whatnot.”

Together Inc. is one of the nonprofits working to provide food and housing services.

“Unfortunately for those who’ve really suffered through pandemic normal is not returning yet,” said Mike Hornacek, CEO, Together Inc.

In the year prior to the pandemic Together’s food pantry saw roughly 42,000 visitors; the number peaking at more than 160,000 last year.

“I think we’re on pace for 130,000 to 140,000 visits this year, so it’s plateaued and it’s tapered off a little bit, but we’re still a long, long way from returning to pre-pandemic numbers,” said Hornacek, noting they expect demand to persist years beyond the pandemic.

“Researchers and economists would tell you it took us 10 years to recover from the 2008 recession,” said Hornacek. “And what we’ve experienced in the last 18 months is way worse than anything we experience back then.”

The hope, however, is that the hundreds of billions of dollars in federal relief funds will help speed up the recovery.

“Should it take us ten years? Probably not,” said Hornacek. “But are we going to recovery in 18 months? No.”

“I think it’s going to take years,” said Hindery, noting people may be getting back to work, but that doesn’t mean they’re catching up.

We also have a pretty high number of families that work two and sometimes three jobs,” she said. “Odds are you still would be accessing the food bank and food pantries, you’re still trying to catch up on rent and utilities.”

Hindery is confident nonprofits have the best shot at helping the community come back.

“Nonprofits have a big history of working with marginalized communities we already have the relationships across the state.”

The is expected to make a decision on the distribution of roughly $1 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funds next year during budget negotiations.

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